ON Broadcast Blog

The Age of Outrage

You don’t have to look very hard to find the ‘Outrage of the Day’ story in the media these days. It’s usually accompanied by aggressive comments from Piers Morgan attached as evidence of said “outrage”. The fact of the matter is we love to complain, to stick our two cents in and have our say on absolutely anything. Unsurprisingly, this can and has been used to the benefit of many a consumer brand.

A simple vegan sausage roll once hit the headlines and divided the country in a way not seen since the EU referendum. Of course, Piers Morgan was leading the outrage charge with a suitably theatrical taste test live on air that ended up with said sausage roll being spat into a bin. But he wasn’t alone in his feelings. Keyboard warriors from across the country took to social media to voice their disgust at the pastry and at veganism in general. Yet, if you strip away the outrage what you have is a conversation gone viral. Whether they’re for or against it, people across Britain were talking about, tweeting about and, yes, buying the newest vegan pastry on the block in a frenzied way that only total outrage could achieve. (Psst, check out Fraser’s blog on this here!)

Razor brand Gillette similarly created outrage not too long ago when they released an advert that clapped back at toxic masculinity in a bid to promote a new kind of positive masculinity. Sounds like a good thing, right? Wrong. People were FURIOUS. Once again, Piers Morgan was first out the gates expressing his outrage, threatening to boycott the brand and many more agreed. Just like that time with the pastry, opinions were split – some praised, some ranted. Yet if you head over to YouTube right now you’ll notice that the advert didn’t exactly suffer from the outrage it sparked. Quite the opposite in fact as the more than 29 million views will attest. People scrambled to view the advert that was causing such a stir to decide whether they too, would be outraged about it.

Have you seen it?

So, is it possible that outrage is becoming the latest brand trend a la mode? Should the success of a great viral campaign be measured in how many people were really, really ticked off? Social media has changed the way consumers interact with brands, allowing them to voice strong opinions for all the world to see – which of course can be a minefield of risk for a social PR team. But maybe, when developing a strategy for our next big PR campaign, we should all strive to be a bit more outrageous.

 Who knows? If we’re really lucky Piers will get upset enough to give a good, branded 5-minute rant live on prime-time breakfast TV (the horror!). 

Amy Stone


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